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Pablo Hernández

Bottom club Racing de Santander sacked Hector Cuper earlier this week and caretaker boss Juan Gonzalez takes over for Saturday evening's weekend opener against Villarreal, with third from bottom Sporting kicking off at the same time against leaders Real Madrid. Real Sociedad and Granada, level on 12 points with Sporting, play on Sunday, with Granada at home to second from bottom Zaragoza and the Basques at home to Malaga.

Xabi Alonso out for Madrid

Mourinho watched last year's game at El Molinon from the stands after he was suspended, but he will be in the dugout on Saturday as Madrid attempt to stretch their 13-game winning run in all competitions. Madrid will be without the influential Xabi Alonso who is suspended, as well as the injured Arbeloa and Carvalho, but Kaka is back and there is a chance that Sahin will be in the starting line up. Valencia will undoubtedly have one eye on their midweek Champions League game against Chelsea when they go into their match against Espanyol on Saturday night and both Soldado and Victor Ruiz could be rested as they are still carrying niggling injuries. Valencia have lost just once in their last eight games, whilst Espanyol have failed to win any of their last four .

Malaga looking to break into top four

Fifth placed Malaga have won three of their last four games and they could go into Sunday's game against Real Sociedad knowing a win could take them level on points with Llevant. For their part, the Basques' win against Betis last week has, for a while at least, taken the pressure off their manager Phillippe Montanier, though they are still only out of the bottom three on goal difference. Bilbao's hopes of catching Malaga and fighting for a top four place suffered a blow last weekend with their defeat to Granada and although they will have been lifted by their midweek Europa Cup success, they suffered further bad news on Friday when Ander Herrera was hospitalised with gastroenteritis ahead of their trip to Mallorca.

Osasuna still unbeaten at home

Bilbao's fellow Basques, Osasuna, are a point ahead of them and will fancy their chances of closing in on Seville, who are three points ahead and play Getafe on Monday, when they host the struggling Betis in Pamplona on Sunday. Although they shipped 15 goals in the Camp Nou and the Bernabeu, Osasuna are still unbeaten at home, whilst Betis' collapse since their great start, could see them slip into the bottom three if they lose on Sunday and other results don't go their way. Finally, there's another Madrid derby this weekend, when Rayo are at the Vicente Calderon at noon on Sunday, with both teams sat on 16 points in mid-table.

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